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India's Houston: Heavy rain paralyses Mumbai; flights, trains hit

Met dept records 65 mm rain in 3 hours, forecasts 'extremely heavy rainfall' in next 24 to 48 hours

PTI & Aneesh Phadnis  |  Mumbai 

Mumbai rains, rainfall

Torrential rain accompanied by strong winds pummelled Mumbai on Tuesday, disrupting rail, road and air services, uprooting trees, swamping homes, bringing the megapolis and satellite towns to its knees. People’s woes were compounded by the high tide that prevented natural drainage of water into the sea.

Meteorological department sources said Mumbai recorded copious rain of 65 mm in just three hours, the heaviest since 2005.

With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasting an “extremely heavy rainfall” in the next 24 to 48 hours, Maharashtra Chief Minister urged the people to stay indoors. Only those government employees who handle critical departments and essential services would be on duty on Wednesday. “In the wake of the warnings issued by the IMD, those in Mumbai and surrounding areas are advised to stay home, unless there is an emergency,” Fadnavis said.

The markets will remain open on Wednesday, the BSE and the Stock Exchange said. Schools and colleges will remain closed.

Fadnavis ordered suspension of toll collection from vehicles at the entry points of the rain-pounded city and at the Bandra-Worli Sealink till the situation normalised. Chief Secretary Sumit Mallick said state government employees have been advised to stay home on Wednesday if rains persisted.

Low visibility, strong winds and the rain diverted seven flights and delayed several for more than an hour on Tuesday. Ten flights were cancelled. The minimum visibility requirement at Mumbai airport is 550 m. Arrivals were suspended briefly as visibility dropped below that mark. Air India, IndiGo and Vistara also waived cancellation charges for Tuesday’s flights. Airline and ground handling agency employees were unable to report to work for the afternoon and evening shifts. Arriving passengers were stranded at the airport as Ola and Uber taxis did not ply. A Mumbai International Airport spokesperson said cargo operations were not impacted and around 350 tonnes of cargo was handled. 

“We instructed all food and beverage outlets to charge for food and beverages as per the Maximum Retail Price only,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson.

Mumbai rains, rainfall
People wade past motorcycles stranded in rainwater in Mumbai on Tuesday. The downpour flooded arterial roads in Lower Parel, Dadar, Kurla, Andheri, Khar West, Ghatkopar, Sion and Hindmata areas. Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
Thousands of vehicles were stranded on arterial roads in Lower Parel, Dadar, Kurla, Andheri, Khar West, Ghatkopar, Sion and Hindmata areas. These places say waist-deep water for several hours.

Suburban rail services, the lifeline of the metropolis, were thrown out of gear. Services on all three suburban railway lines — Central, Western and Harbour — were paralysed.

Some passengers jumped off stationary trains and walked along the tracks to their destinations.

Prime Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Fadnavis on the situation. “Centre assures all possible support to the government of Maharashtra in mitigating the situation due to heavy rains in parts of the state,” he added.

The metropolis has received heavy rainfall since last night. Naval helicopters have been kept on standby to meet any eventuality and flood rescue teams and divers are also ready for deployment, a Navy spokesperson said.

Schools and colleges have been ordered shut following forecast of heavy rainfall, Education Minister Vinod Tawde said.

Chief Minister Fadnavis said the situation was being monitored closely and necessary advisories would be issued from time to time.

First Published: Wed, August 30 2017. 01:18 IST
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